China's big three launch mobile data carry-over plans

01 Oct 2015

China’s three major mobile carriers announced plans to introduce a new service which allows postpaid customers to roll over unused mobile data in their bucket plans.

Starting from today, customers of data packages can carry over their monthly plans’ remaining unused data traffic for use until the end of the following month, China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom said in stock filings to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange on Tuesday.

The three carriers said the new mobile data carry-over policy “was to further implement the policy requirements of the government regarding network speed upgrade and tariff reduction.”

Industry watchers widely believe the move is the biggest tariff adjustment announced by the three state-owned telcos, who have been urged by the telecom regulator the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology since April to cut data prices and improve network speeds.

All the three cellcos said the launch of the new service, however, is expected to have a certain adverse impact on revenue and net profit.

“The company will continue to proactively leverage its 4G network edge to encourage the customers to increase data usage upon speed upgrade and tariff reduction, aiming at increasing sales volume at lower unit prices and endeavoring to mitigate the impact on the revenues and net profit of the relevant concession measure,” China Telecom said.

China Mobile said it will continue to leverage its first mover advantages in 4G to encourage its customers to increase their mobile data usage, whilst adopting the “increasing speed and reducing charges” principle in order to achieve “small margins but quick turnover”. China Unicom meanwhile said it will speed up the construction of its 4G network, enhance the penetration in the 4G smartphone market, and provide better data services to subscribers in order to minimize the impact.

Chinese cellcos are the latest mobile carriers in the industry to introduce data rollover plans. A number of cellcos worldwide have already introduced such a service, such as T-Mobile and AT&T in the US, which launched such services in December and January respectively.

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